Well, today I went wandering on the nearby sand dune and found evidence of a once florishing Aboriginal community. I’d only just climbed the low dune when I came upon a midden with small bone fragments. Scattered about the midden were stone flakes with the typical characteristics of Aboriginal stone flakes, the result of making stone tools.
Tiny stone flakes, half the size of your little finger nail, to large pieces the size of a matchbox and bigger.
The midden was only a few metres across but the field of stone flakes spread over an area of maybe 100 metres by 200 metres.
In this area of rocks and stones, up on the sand dune where they wouldn’t have got by themselves, were rocks from the flats below. Many were the usual flat rocks of the gibber plain, while there were water washed, rounded stones, apparently from a creek bed. Funny thing though, I don’t see many, if any, rounded stones in the creek beds around here, just flat and square cut stones.
It’s pretty hard, using words, to describe random shapes, so you’ll just have to look at the photos.
Similarly, it’s near on impossable to describe colour with words. There were stone flakes that struck me as beautiful in form, texture and colour. Not common was the dark chocolate variety. Obviously very hard, fine grained stone with an attractive colour and a surface that shon in the sunlight, the many faccets showing off the work of an ancient craftsman.
There were other stone flakes that were kind of ambre in colour and almost clear where they were thin, when held up to the light.
Then there were the blue/grey and green/grey stones, some finer grained than others.
There were uellowish and greenish stone flakes and others of attractive browns with still others of mottled colour.
As I wandered around, stooping to pick up and examine stone flakes every couple of paces, I was lucky enough to find several host stones, the stones from which the flakes had been fragmented. Most of these discarded host stones seemed to be of inferior quality, coarser grained, but a few smaller stones looked to my untrained eye to be good quality stone.
So I wondered about the story the stone flakes and midden hide and to some extent tell.
Do they date back to the time when Australia’s inland was much wetter than today, to the time inland Australia was sub tropical?
Willaroo Lagoon is a dry, salt lake about three kilometres long by two kilometres wide and a couple of kilometres from Andamooka Waterhole and the sand dune where I’m camped. Willaroo Lagoon is seperated from the creek that holds Andamooka Waterhole by a long sand dune. I can imagine that in ancient times, this creek and Willaroo Lagoon were joined. With greater rainfall, Willaroo Lagoon may have been quite a waterhole and maybe fresh. Looking at the lie of the land, Willaroo Lagoon could easily have been eight or ten kilometres long and six or eight kilometres wide and six or eight metres deep. It could have even have been a part of a flourishing Lake Torrens which is only maybe ten kilometres distant and which recieves the water fron Andamooka Waterhole in flood time.
So to my mind, it’s possable there was a thriving Aboriginal community in the area, in the distant past, living well on the abundance of the inland sea the early European explorers vainly searched for, who camped in this and many other sand dunes of what we now know as the arid region.
If this is anywhere near true, you’d have to say the Aboriginal race was a victim of climate change. You’d also have to say that by adaptation, the Aboriginees survived climate change.
Going back to the stone flakes: I’d have dearly loved to take a few handfulls of the stone flakes home and tumble them, bringing their fine grain and hard structure out to a brilliant shine. But alas, they belong to the Aborigines, their ancestors worked with the stone flakes and left them there on the sand dune at their former camp. It’s their prorogative to have them left lie where they fell.
I don’t know if the stone flakes are from local stone or whether the host stones were carried and traded by visiting tribesman. But you can be sure that I’m keeping my eyes open for stones that break with a fine grained appearance! I’d take a couple of natural stones that I found myself home, that’s for sure!